61 students win a medal in Russian essay contest

Sandy Cortez, one of the seniors who won a gold medal. Photo Credit: Jazlyn Jimenez

By Jazlyn Jimenez ’20

61 Pritzker students participated in The National Russian Essay Contest, NREC. Out of those 61 students, all of them won medals: 14 students received a gold medal, 29 received a silver medal, and 18 received a bronze metal.

The IB seniors anxiously came into class to write an essay, unaware of what the topic would be beforehand. As if the pressure was not already on, the students had limited time to write the essay, with their only resource being a Russian dictionary. This essay was mandatory for all seniors in IB and a few advanced students in Russian.

The purpose of this contest was to test these students’ ability to write in Russian after two years of hard work.

This year, the students had to respond to the prompt: “why do people study Russian?” According to the guidelines, the students were supposed to get two hours to compose this essay; however, these Pritzker students accomplished this in only one class period, explained Stosberg.

Learning a new language can be intimidating. Some might even consider it impossible, but this contest gave some more confidence to some of these seniors. Senior Whitney Jani, one of the many who won a medal, did not believe “it was possible that [she] could write an essay in Russian.”

Pritzker does offer a few opportunities to ensure students success in learning this challenging language. Pritzker recently informed sophomores of a Russian summer program in Pittsburgh so that they can get a head start next year. Pritzker also gives juniors the opportunity of applying to a similar program at University of Wisconsin-Madison during the summer so that they can improve their skills.

Senior Sandy Cortez, who also won a gold medal for her Russian essay, attended the Madison summer program and believes that played a key role in her achievement.

However, not partaking in these amazing summer programs does not determine students’ success in Russian as Jani, who was equally successful in her achievement of the gold medal, did not participate in these programs. As Jani explained, as long as you put in the work and look for help when you need it, then one will do just fine in this class.

Both these girls shared similar advice for incoming juniors taking Russian next year. Jani expressed that students should always ask questions. “Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes especially in front of your peers. You are all beginners in learning the language, so everyone should be understanding if you make a mistake,” Jani further added.